Top Secret Student Life: Mikayla Leone

How having a high risk job can affect an officer’s life and can change the life of their kids

Kylie Brennan, Reporter

If you have a parent in law enforcement, you understand the struggles that are faced knowing that when they go to work they are not guaranteed to be in a safe environment. Mikayla Leone understands this and lives this everyday. Her dad, Mark Leone, is a police detective with the St. Charles County Police Department. Although the children don’t understand the job like the parents do, they are affected in a way as well. 

Because of the work people in law enforcement do, they tend to internalize what they feel about what happens on the job.

Police detective for Saint Charles County Police Department, and Mikayla’s dad, Mark Leone in uniform. (courtesy of Mark Leone)

“I think the longer you do this job, over time it just becomes normal. At first it’s a very deliberate thing to kinda keep those things to yourself,” Leone said. “Over time, you just get so used to doing that, it just becomes a habit. Not that it’s a healthy thing, it can certainly become a habit.”

Like he said, internalizing issues is not healthy, some things cannot be kept to yourself forever. Being a police detective, Mark Leone says that those in his field need to have a strong mentality. This strong mentality can lead to being closed off and unable to express themselves and their emotions. Those in law enforcement (inducing people who just have a bad day ) go through a decompressing period to get them back in “family-mode.” Mikayla notices that sometimes her dad does not want to talk about his day. She says, “he sometimes just wants to come home and chill out.” 

Sometimes, though, “family-mode” doesn’t come so easily. Mark Leone’s week varies day-to-day, every day is different, something that he enjoys about the job. His daughter, Mikayla, feels annoyed at some points because he will get called in on the weekends; Days where he is supposed to be off.

Law enforcement officers are trained to be aware of their surroundings, in fact they have three different zones people can fall under. Mark Leone described these three zones in a way that was easy to understand. He said, “You want them to be situationally aware. We call that always being conditioned yellow. Condition white is being completely oblivious, you have no idea what is going on around you. Condition red is that you are paranoid. Condition yellow is where you are relaxed but you are still aware of what is going on around you. And that is what we are trained to kind of always be in, and you do take that home with you when you are off the job.”

This constant state of readiness does not go unnoticed by kids of the law enforcement. Mikayla Leone can see this state in certain unconscious decisions her dad makes. “I know he has that, but he hides it pretty well that it does not affect us. He always has to sit facing the door, like if we go to restaurants and stuff so he can see who is coming in. He does that a lot, kind of like instinct for him.”

I know he has that, but he hides it pretty well that it does not affect us. He always has to sit facing the door, like if we go to restaurants and stuff so he can see who is coming in. He does that a lot, kind of like instinct for him.

— Mikayla Leone

Working in law enforcement is not for the faint of heart, you see and hear things that no person should ever have to. Police officers get a bad wrap. One of the biggest misconceptions people have is that law enforcement officers are out to get people. There are corrupt police in the world, but those few cannot amount to the good people we have to protect us. Mark Leone has this strong sense of justice and morality; These traits along with others is what got him to the position he is in.

Michelle Petrosky, Mark’s significant other, comments on his strong moral code, “One time Mark and I were talking, years ago at this point, and I was like ‘you knew, like 100% knew that someone was guilty of a crime but you could not prove it. Would you plant something, like you are 1,000% certain that this person did this thing and if I do this, then they won’t be able to do that again and if you don’t then they walk free.’ And without any hesitation whatsoever he said ‘no because if I was 1,000% certain, then there’s evidence that proves they did it.’”

Seeing what he sees everyday, Mark Leone says that it is difficult to allow his kids to go out to places without an adult or by themselves. He agrees that those that are not in the kind of position he is in, those who haven’t seen what he has seen, may find it easier to allow their children to go places by themselves or without a way to contact the parent. Mikayla says that she has to take her phone everywhere she goes, and her dad is kept up to date on her location when she goes out. Being a child of a law enforcement officer can be difficult or scary at times, Mikayla knows that firsthand. 

Law enforcement officers are faced with difficult decisions, criticism, and dangerous situations on almost a daily basis. They see things difficult to stomach, and most times end up internalizing these themselves. Certain training subconsciously follows them home, even ending up being installed into their children’s lives. Having a parent in law enforcement can be hard to handle, and changes the dynamics of a household. Mikayla Leone recognizes and relates to these dynamics in her life.